16 June 2019  Hijri Date: 13 شوال 1440
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4. What is the Islamic view of Humanity?

Each person is composed of three parts—spirit, carnal soul, and body. Each of these needs to be satisfied. They are so interrelated, and their needs are so different, that neglecting one results in our failing to attain perfection.

As we read in the Qur’an: Fair in the eyes of men is the love of what they covet: women, children, stored-up heaps of gold and silver, horses of mark, cattle and tillage (3:14). Our physical make-up and individual characteristics produce certain inclinations, and we can neither avoid satisfying these lusts implanted  in us by the Creator nor be rid of them. This does not mean that people attempting to satisfy their lusts are free to do as they please or cannot overcome their inclinations. On the contrary, this means that we can change our inclinations by exercising our free will, and can control our lust, anger, and other emotions and then use them to propel ourselves along the path of perfection and wisdom.

Made of dust (our earthly element) and spirit (our heavenly element), we have to satisfy both our material and spiritual needs. Just as we are subject to anger and passion, so can we exercise our intellect. We are not just plants or animals; rather, we are unique beings with both plant and animal aspects. Just as our physical body is subject to its own pleasures and diseases, our spirit has its own joys and ailments.

We must express our powers and faculties in a balanced and moderate way so that they can perform their functions properly. Doing so engenders a particular ability. For example, purifying and training the intellect brings knowledge and wisdom, purifying anger engenders courage and then forbearance, and purifying passion and desire develops chastity. The moral virtues acquired by those rising toward perfection and the realization of true happiness are wisdom, courage, and chastity.

One important point related to our earthly existence is that since we are social, civilized beings coexisting with other people, our earthly life covers social, political, and economic aspects as well as spiritual ones. Our worldly nature makes it possible for us to be too obedient to our desires. History shows that when those who are interested only in power finally attain it, they light fires of oppression and enslave the poor and the weak. On the other hand, God is All-Just and never approves of injustice and oppression. Thus the religion He revealed must—and does—cover all aspects of human life.

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